China, Zynga and the Growing Clout of Digital Communication

Honda-factory-riot-police-006 I began Pixels and Policy as a way of exploring my thoughts
about digital communication as a potentially transformative medium on the
global stage. Around the same time as I began writing Pixels and Policy, way
back in August 2009, tens of thousands of brave citizen activists in Iran stood
up to a regime universally regarded as brutally repressive, violent and theocratic.
Within days of Iran’s
rigged election, the governing powers enacted strict limitations on the flow of
information.

Though much of their fight took place in city streets and town
squares, the rest of the world came to know Iranian protest figures like Neda Agha-Soltan
and Mir-Hossein Moussavi chiefly through their creative use of digital
communication sources as a platform for civic protest. Western news outlets couldn’t
get enough of how the pro-democracy “Green Revolution” mobilized disparate groups
of protesters through online social media like Twitter. Less reported was their
widespread use of virtual social media like Second Life and Facebook, where
communication could carry on unencumbered by the heavy hand of Iranian security
forces.

Nearly one year on from my first article about Iran, both
Pixels and Policy and the digital communication landscape have changed
markedly. Without noticing it at the time, Pixels and Policy moved from serving
as a space for compelling original analysis of digital communication on the
world stage to serving as a sort of sub-par news aggregator for virtual worlds.
Pixels and Policy also became uninteresting to read along the way, as my
interactions with readers illuminated. Now I hope to correct course and get Pixels and Policy back to what it once was and should be.

Continue reading China, Zynga and the Growing Clout of Digital Communication

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Wants You to Punish Your Kids for Gaming

It's rare we find reporting on virtual worlds that is so backwards as to be almost comical. We attribute the declining trend of online gaming fear to increasing exposure to and understanding of both virtual worlds and their players. Heck, some schools are even using them to teach.

Then there's the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and their intrepid writer Peter McKay. Not only does Mr. McKay think virtual worlds are the pathway to destruction for one and all, but he urges parents to take all measures to keep kids as far from online gaming as possible.

Pixels and Policy descends into the murk.

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Can the Rise of Virtual Worlds Promote Social Reform in the Middle East?

Virtual worlds have proven applications in fields as diverse as business marketing, classroom education, and political campaigning. But what if Western governments rolled out the virtual welcome mat as a means of engaging Islamic governments and citizens in the Middle East?

Pixels and Policy looks at some emerging research and a bit of industry prognostication to see whether online games could revolutionize one of the world's hardest-to-reach populations.

Continue reading Can the Rise of Virtual Worlds Promote Social Reform in the Middle East?